Have you ever done something so lame, so embarrassing, so unbelievably STUPID that you visibly cringe, regardless of where you are and what you’re doing? Lord knows I have. I’ve got a ton of those under my belt. So I figure, why not share those with you? You know, you are my friends and all.
Thing I can’t take back:
That Time I Went Tanning
Growing up in the Northeast United States, you appreciate the passing of seasons and you understand that sometimes the sun is going to go away for a very long time. You spend a lot of time indoors, you shovel the sidewalk, fall into long periods of depression, and then spring comes. At no point in those three/four/seven months are you supposed to be described with any of these adjectives: ruddy, hale, tawny, tan, bronzed, healthy. Some people don’t get this memo, and so they go to tanning salons dotted around Boston to get some Technicolor.
In the beginning of 2003, I was one of those people. Once.
Being a bored freshman at Boston College, the prospect of going off campus was like asking your dog if it wanted to take a ride in the car. Never mind the destination, I was bundled up and hopping up and down by the front door.
I would like to say that I had no idea where we were going. In good faith, I can’t say that. My buddy had mentioned that he’d like to get a base tan before he went off on spring break, which is kinda like saying you’re stabbing this homeless guy to see if Cutco knives really are THAT sharp. It seems like a decent cover story, but no one’s going to let that go.
But I did.
I’ll admit, I was kinda curious as to what these places looked like. I imagined they looked like the pods the machines use to grow humans in “The Matrix.” I had to know. I was also spending my freshman year doing such intelligent things as throwing myself through a giant plywood plank, dressing up in a rival school’s mascot uniform and accosting strangers on the beach, and considering a major in German. It was one of those years.
I walked right in to “Endless Summer Tanning Salon” across the street from Boston University (I’m taking everyone down with me, here). Then two unthinkable things happened, which I really should have seen coming. It was the classic example of when you look your worst you run into everyone you’ve ever known or hope to impress.
It started right off the bat. I got whatever my buddy was getting (I was committed. I had to do it. Shut up.) and the guy behind the counter looked at me like the Joker looks at people who tell him they’re not intimidated by thugs.
“Woody? Woody Tondorf? We went to high school together!”
Woody’s dignity and masculinity…Time of death: 4:17pm.
I wasn’t great friends with the receptionist, but it was awkward enough for the conversation to be excruciating and absolutely positive of the fact that my visit would be reported. Even my retreat was awful. How do you end an awkward conversation where the only option for retreat is a chair ten feet away and a shield of Entertainment Weekly? I was screwed…until I realized I was sitting next to the girl I had an absurd crush on from my German class. If fmylife.com existed back then, I would have sent about four different entries.
I don’t envy the struggle that girls have to go through, but I do appreciate that they can go tanning and it’s totally cool. The stigma of tanning (to an extent) is exclusive to guys who are not from New Jersey (deal with it, douchebags. The stereotype wouldn’t exist if it weren’t true.) Therefore, it’s perfectly fine for her to be there, but in terms of my future prospects with German Crush, I might as well have asked her to hold my herpes meds while I was at it.
Even hiding behind the magazine and hoping for divine intervention was useless. OF COURSE I got called before her, maybe because high school friend thought he was doing me a solid…or maybe because he knew he could sink my hookup battleship right then and there. I practically vaulted over the table, stiff-armed the receptionist, and sprinted into the first available booth.
Long story short, it wasn’t the right booth.
So finally I’m in there, staring at this tanning bed in the middle of the room that looks like the time machine from “Total Recall.” I actually considered just sitting in the room for half an hour and leaving, but I had a “screw it” moment and jumped in.
The rest was pretty uneventful. Felt like a douchebag, got out, and tried to leave like the broken spirit I was. But no…no no no. The receptionist called me over and gave me a “frequent tanner” card. Yep, you can get a free tan after just eight visits! Let’s just leave it as I’m still seven behind.
Despite all this, I kept the card. I’d had lots of moments where I’d done something pretty embarrassing, but this was the first time I had a real, card-carrying regret to look at and remind me that I’m so far from perfect it’s amusing. Though douchey, it was a pretty funny ritual and one I can still chuckle at today.
It didn’t hurt that I looked AWESOME.
Never forget that.
I’m your friend, Woody Tondorf, and one time I went tanning. That’s something I can’t take back.
Filed under: comedy, Essays, Things I can't take back | Tagged: boston college, boston university, douchebags, endless summer, fake tanning, german, new jersey, tanning salon, Tara Reid, the matrix, Things I can't take back, total recall |